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Sep 22, 2006 10:05 PM

Food magazines weighing down shelves-- what to do?

So reading about everybody's favorite magazines made me want to go out and buy more, but my shelves are already full! What do you do with old magazines: keep them all, tear out the recipes you make and file them (or something), toss them all except for your favorites, donate them to the rummage (would they take them?)?

I used to be able to set my hands on a recipe because I would remember it was in the CI with the squash on front, or whatever, but now I have too many and I'm having trouble finding things, in addition to having full shelves.

I think I should tear out what I want, but my memory is very bad, and after a year or two, I could happily reread an issue and think it was new, so why toss it?

My basement is full, so don't even think about suggesting that.

What do you do?

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  1. I try and limit myself to ten to twenty of the "everyday" mags. Cooks Illustrated and Saveur are the only ones that I will not throw out because those are principally recipe and writing driven. Pound for pound, you're saving more ads than writing for your Gourmets et al.

    I generally select the best of the batch, then select the best of the best. If the pile is still too big, I pick out the best of the REST. The rest I toss.

    Between online recipe sources and anthologies of "Best Of" writing, there's little need to save every copy. I'll grant you this, it is a damn shame to have to toss so many great mags. Donate them, sell them to a used bookstore...

    1. Depending on how old they are, a used bookstore won't take em (tried that), but I know who will. Libraries. Any kind. Sometimes they will have archives, and use copies for that purpose. Other times, they will send the mags out for binding and make a complete collection! So it's best not to rip bits out if that's what you're wanting to do with them.

      Also, and your local library might be able to help you here, teachers are often in need of magazines, either for class, or for cooking schools, etc (who also may have libraries).

      Anyway, that's what I'd do.


      1. Please think carefully before dropping your old magazines off at the library. Most people assume they're the very first person ever to offer 75 years of National Geographic to the library, and the library will surely be grateful. But the truth is, unless you live in a very small town, your public library will often have a good collection of these things already. Call them first. The suggestion to offer magazines to a cooking school is a good one; you could also try a local vocational high school that might have food service training programs.

        As for what I do with my copies, I add the recipes that interest me to my (!) account ( and tag them with various terms (sidedishes, vegetables, breakfast, etc.). I am a librarian, after all, so I do get something out of organizing and cataloging things. Then I cut out whatever's not available online and file it away. If anything's left, it gets recycled.

        Note to publishers: consider putting your archives online (articles and recipes), either behind a barrier for paid subscribers, or better yet, for free, for everyone.

        1. I allow them to accumulate for about a year and then send to be recycled. Saveur I keep around and I usually save Gourmet's December issue with the Christmas cookie recipes for a few years. Everything else goes.

          1. All the food magazine seem to be snapped up quickly when offered to the Boston area Freecycle list. You can see if there is a group in your area.


            I usually wait until I have one of those small shopping bags full to offer and then send out an email to my food friends. If they don't want them I freecyle them. So far, someone has come to get them from me every time.